It has been almost two months since Superstorm Sandy made landfall, and the American Red Cross volunteers still remain on the ground providing help to residents affected by the storm. It was one of the largest disasters in Red Cross history. Those who serve are from every small and large city across America. In every disaster, it is asked: “Why would you come this far?”
Seven local disaster relief volunteers witnessed the spirit of America in action. There is no measure for the generous hearts of Americans, including the citizens of Walla Walla and Columbia counties who can always be depended upon!
A huge surge of water flooded thousands of homes, cars and businesses. It was massive; boats lifted over homes, precious memories piled up along curbs. People were affected for weeks with no heat or power, no kitchens, growing mold and major damage in a very densely populated area of New Jersey/New York. The cleanup continues.
Driving into these neighborhoods with 400 hot meals daily, most people were embarrassed to ask out of their sense of dignity. Volunteers explained that meals, water and cleaning supplies were possible through the generous donations of caring people whom they will probably never meet. Caseworkers were going from door to door offering assistance — groceries, clothing and lodging. There were many hugs and thank-yous.
These neighbors have deep roots: grandparents, kids and grandchildren don’t move away. They are humble and grateful people. There were so many American flags still mounted on ruined homes. Firefighters and police officers who answered the call on 9-11-01 are now facing their own personal disasters.
The French author, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his study of America, described “the habits of the democratic heart,” compassion into action which is embedded in the American character. It still thrives today.
Those affected by the disaster have the American spirit of rebuilding. It will be a much better Christmas next year. We appreciate your giving them hope.
A Red Cross motto is: “You may never work harder or get dirtier or get paid less but it will be the best job you never get paid to do.” It’s true.